James series – “The Litmus Test for life”
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
It’s here in chapter 4 that James takes us through the eighth test “The Pride Test.” As we look at part 1 we will see that Pride is not just a problem it is a poison that not only ruins our hearts but hurts all of our relationships, from friends and family to our relationship with our heavenly Father. My prayer as we go through the Pride test is that we would identify and recognize the areas in our lives where we harbor selfish pride. In a few weeks we will celebrate memorial. A day to remember those who fought for our freedom. When we think of the military we think of fighting and war, it’s what soldiers sometimes have to do. But what about the rest of us? Do we have to fight and quarrel with people on a daily basis? No, we don’t but many do. Sadly some have a militant marriage, instead of caring they are combative. Our text today is about fighting and quarreling. Sometimes it just seems like people like to fight. They fight at home. They fight at work. They fight with relatives. They fight with neighbors. And they fight at church. I bet that if you locked some people in a room all by themselves, they’d fight with themselves. Now, the church at Jerusalem where James pastored experienced conflict. James reveals not only the symptoms and the source of their conflict but also the solution. We need to understand that the passage we’re looking at this morning is part of a larger section that runs all the way through 5:6. This eight test of faith, the pride test, tests us at the very core of our sinful nature, our pride. As you recall, he is in the middle of giving us 9 tests to determine whether or not our faith is real. He has already given us the Identity test, The Poverty and Prosperity Test, Bible Test, the Preference Test, the Works Test, the Tongue Test and the Wisdom Test. The test of pride is such a big issue for James, that he divides it into three sections, selfish pride, presumptive pride, and greedy pride. In today’s passage, James asks his readers where their continual desire to fight amongst themselves comes from. And his answer is surprising. Rather than point his finger at an outward cause of their strife, he tells them it is because of each of their individual selfishness. Selfishness that is rooted in their pride. He doesn’t address it as a problem with the church body as a whole. It’s not a problem with the group. It’s not a problem with other people. He tells them it’s a problem with each of them. And that problem with each of them is causing problems for the body as a whole. I want each of us to identify and recognize the areas in our lives where we harbor selfish pride and as the Holy Spirit shows us those areas, I want us to turn from selfishness to selflessness.